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Dreamflower's Musings  by Dreamflower 120 Review(s)
InklingReviewed Chapter: 1 on 11/11/2005
Oh, what fun! And interesting, too…
I couldn’t agree more—while there’s a place for fanon, it should always proceed from a thorough knowledge of canon. I have seen that point made before in discussions of AU fics…that they should always be written with a clear understanding of where they depart from canon. And as for things that could be true, as they are not actually contradicted by canon, I have my own name for that: “speculative canon.”

Not sure I have something intelligent to contribute about every fanon you mention, but I did have an observation about the first one. I fully agree with your reasoning, and in fact have portrayed Saradoc and Esmeralda (and Merry) as playing the roles in young Frodo’s life that you suggest. I like your solution of Drogo leaving a will (what story is that in?). My own solution was to postulate that, while Rory would have been Frodo’s “official” guardian, to the extent that he had one,

Since the accident Saradoc had assumed the role of Frodo’s guardian, Rory having neither the patience nor inclination.

So Sara is the “acting” guardian, if not the official one.

And as Fantasy Fan raises the question about the Baggins relations, here’s how I have dealt with that, in a discussion of who could take Frodo off the Brandybucks’ hands after he got in even more trouble than usual:

“Mad Baggins? Hardly a fit guardian for a rascal like Frodo. He needs someone with a firm hand and a watchful eye to keep him in line.”

“Perhaps Drogo’s brother Dudo would take him in?”

“Nay, Dudo has worries enough what with Daisy chasing around after Griffo Boffin and every other handsome rogue in the Westfarthing. If he wants my advice I’d marry off that one posthaste and not wait till she comes of age! Nay, I’m going to write to Dora Baggins, it’s time she assumed her share of responsibility for the lad.”

The prospect of the last suggestion being enough to make Frodo decide to run away!

Oh, and one small comment on the singing question: while I can’t think of any canon basis for Pippin being a good singer (except perhaps his modest reply to Denethor that you cite), there IS canon evidence for Frodo…in “At the Sign of the Prancing Pony,” we are told that Frodo has a good voice.

Thank you for posting this, Dreamflower!

Author Reply: Yes, the best AU fics are those that have the most respect for canon, and a good sound foundation there from which to spring.

I am really loving this discussion of Frodo's guardianship, and all the variations on a theme that folk have come up with.

My account of Drogo's will is in "A Place for Gandalf", which is the story in which Bilbo finally decides to adopt Frodo. Drogo designated Bilbo as Frodo's primary guardian, with Saradoc as his secondary guardian. And both his parents leave him substantial inheritances. My Frodo may be an orphan, but he is by no means penniless.

I like your scenario, though, especially that Frodo might run away rather than have to be placed with Aunt Dora, LOL!

Yes, it does say that. I think all four of them probably had pleasant voices. But my notion that Pippin's musical talent is more than ordinary (aside from Billy Boyd's lovely voice) is based on his seeming to *love* singing so much (eg. in the bath at Crickhollow) and usually a love for music accompanies the talent as well.

And you are welcome. Thanks for coming by and commenting!

LindeleaReviewed Chapter: 1 on 11/11/2005
As to the question of Bilbo's being head of the Bagginses, and whether it is canon or fanon...

(waving at FantasyFan)

I got this by looking at the family tree, mostly, though I have a vague recollection of reading something somewhere (in JRRT's letters? related to a discussion of the Baggins name dying out, or something?).

Looking at the family tree, if the hierarchy goes anything like it does on the Brandybuck (looking at who's Master) family tree or the descent of the title "Thain" amongst the Tooks, it looks as if Bilbo would have the pre-eminent position. Balbo's eldest son was Mungo; his eldest son was Bungo; his son was Bilbo and they are all at the far left of the tree. If Bilbo died without an heir the title of "head" would follow the next branch, one level up, if I'm reading correctly, bypassing Belba who became a Bolger by marriage, on to Longo's descendant, Otho.

So far as I can figure, if all of Mungo's descendents died out or ended in female descendants, the title would pass to Ponto's line, and again, if there were no males to carry the title, then it would pass to Largo's line, and Frodo was the end of that line.

Though the clan could be a matriarchy by ruling, the "name" passed down through the male line, so far as I can determine. An unmarried female, by definition in that culture, would have no progeny to pass the title on to. And a married female took on the name of her husband. She'd be a matriarch of her husband's clan, but not under her birth name. I don't know if I am expressing myself clearly. My brain is getting more muddled by the moment.

So, no statement in "canon" that I can come up with off the top of my head, but deduction. Or is it induction?

Low blood sugar does a lot to disrupt concentration, I'm afraid.

Got to go find some protein and get the kiddos working on math now that lunch break is over.

Author Reply: Wow! Lin! You did this the hard way! I just got it straight from Letters! LOL!

This is really turning into a regular discussion! *grin*

harrowcatReviewed Chapter: 1 on 11/11/2005
I found this very interesting Dreamflower. I have, once or twice, commented on the cross-fertilization of ideas between Authors. I enjoy it but, like you, much prefer ideas that have at least some basis in canon.

Author Reply: Thank you. I do like the ideas to have a basis in canon, or, at the very least not to *contradict* canon. I also prefer fanon ideas that do not go "over-the-top", if you know what I mean.

LarnerReviewed Chapter: 1 on 11/11/2005
Ooh, such a wonderful essay.

The idea that Frodo was primarily tied to Esmeralda and Saradoc just seemed logical to me. They are old enough to be seen as authority figures, don't have a child at the time, are young enough to have the stamina to deal with a child (have watched many children born to older parents primarily raised by older siblings because the parents haven't the stamina to go through it yet again!), and were old enough perhaps to be friends with their Aunt Primula and her husband, Primula, after all, being the youngest of Rory's siblings. It would also add to the feeling between Frodo and Merry as being brothers, which would make it more logical Merry would seek to accompany Frodo on any attempt to escape the Shire.

I've never felt that Pippin ought to have been relatively sickly as a child, and so, although I love the stories based on that fanon idea, I've not continued that idea in my own stories.

However, there needed to be a reason for Frodo not to have developed the relationships he did with Merry, Pippin, Sam, Folco, and Fredegar with those closer to his own age. Why should this one who was fourteen years older than Merry have been closer to Merry than to Reginard Took, or some of the older Brandybucks, most of whom aren't named? So I took Lindelea's idea of Frodo's congestive heart failure and possible heart murmur and set it in MY version of the childhood of Frodo Baggins, the child who from the time of his parents' death is set aside and held from normal teen experiences and relationships due to misinterpretation of a childhood disability that he outgrew.

If possession is nine-tenths of the law, the fact that Frodo was there in the Hall at Drogo and Primula's deaths seemed to indicate he'd end up staying primarily there, particularly as Bilbo, even if he were recognized patriarch of the Bagginses, was both a bachelor and seen as one likely to do things impulsively and unexpectedly, as evidenced by his unprecedented trip out of the Shire and the embracing of the image as "Mad Baggins" afterwards. So I have Saradoc, Esmeralda, Roridoc, and Menegilda, supported by the Thain's family and Paladin and Eglantine, overruling Bilbo. And as Bilbo recognizes that in the fragile times just after the deaths of Primula and Drogo Frodo would be negatively affected by any of Lobelia's activities, I have him agreeing, although reserving the right to exercise his options in the long run.

The psychic connection is a good one, and certainly one I've exploited a bit, although not as much as some others. I was myself caught from my first reading by the view of Frodo in bed in Rivendell and the vision Gandalf had of Frodo becoming a creature of light in the end; then the vision Sam and Gollum on the stair of Cirith Ungol share of Frodo surrounded by light, and Frodo's vision of Aragorn as King; and so that idea of auras permeates my own works.

Pippin did sing a good deal in FOTR particularly, and so I never had an idea of him NOT being musically inclined, although I suspect all Hobbits have some tendencies that way. That Frodo grew up hearing Bilbo's walking songs and so on and wouldn't also do some singing seemed impossible to believe, so I have him also singing sweetly, if not as splendidly as Pippin does.

Pippin's greater security running across the rope bridge in Lorien indicated to me that he'd have had a better head for heights than the rest; however, sleeping on a wall-less flet would have been less comfortable for any of them, I think, save perhaps for Sam who appears to have slept solidly and without a lot of tossing about. He's the most comfortable with the idea of sleeping on the flet, but most terrified and least competent at the rope walk. Therefore I tend to picture Pippin as a restless sleeper, but comfortable with heights.

As for Hobbit piles--they make a nice image.

Hope you don't mind my OWN essay I seem to be contributing.

Author Reply: Not at all. You have touched on a number of my own reasons for going along with the Saradoc/Esmeralda guardianship. And so far, I seem to be alone in the idea that Drogo would have already had a will. Nevertheless, I am fascinated by some of the less familiar scenarios others come up with.

I am currently working on an essay about Frodo's relationship with the other three hobbits, but it's not nearly finished yet.

That's also a good point about Pippin's and Sam's sleep patterns. (Remember how much sounder than the others Sam slept in the house of Bombadil?) And about the heights in general.

Hobbit piles *are* a nice image, and I think that's why so many have adopted it. It seems to be a favorite meme of most hobbit writers, in spite of being basically entirely fanon.

And, no, not at all. I am *loving* all these various ideas!

FantasyFanReviewed Chapter: 1 on 11/11/2005
My comments addressed what I thought about legal guardianship, but it is definitely canon that Frodo's best friends were Merry, Pippin, Freddy and Folco. It is a fact that his best friends are all considerably younger than he is. Actually, if you look at the family trees, there are relatively few in Frodo's age-bracket (Lotho being a notable exception). Since Frodo moved from Buckland to Hobbiton when he was 21, it is a likely extrapolation that such a close relationship at least with Merry has a basis in the time he lived in Buckland. Perhaps, as one of the few convenient teens in residence, he was pressed into service as a babysitter by Sara and Esme. In any case, I don't think it is too much of a stretch to postulate that there must have been a relationship with Merry's family, even if it wasn't a legal one. After all, Brandy Hall is described as "a regular warren" and Frodo "being brought up anyhow" by no less of an unbiased authority as the Gaffer; family relationships must be relatively loose. And something had to inspire the fierce loyalty of the Conspirators.

I like the idea of Bilbo abhorring the thought that the Sackville-Bagginses would get Frodo if he himself was judged unsuitable and a Baggins claim was to be pressed. But is it canon that Bilbo was the head of the Baggins family at that time (or ever, for that matter)?

Author Reply: It is an interesting facet about Frodo's age and his friendships. I'm working on another essay entirely on the relationships of the four Travellers, so I hope to get lots of input on that.

It is what may be called "quasi-canon" or "semi-canon" in that the idea comes from JRRT himself, rather than fanfic. In his famous "Letter #214" he says that Bilbo became the head of the Bagginses at the age of 44, when his mother Belladonna died. One of the reasons for Otho's ambitions in trying to get hold of Bag End was to facilitate his ambition become head of *both* the Sackville clan, which he held through his mother, and the Baggins clan, which he could have taken on becoming Bilbo's heir.

Author Reply: Lindelea just posted something else on this subject drawn entirely from the family trees!

LindeleaReviewed Chapter: 1 on 11/11/2005
After reading FantasyFan's fascinating comments, and your thoughtful reply I thought I'd add my own .02.

I think I come down partway between, at least so far as I'd thought it through. I saw Bilbo, as the head of the Baggins clan, as very likely taking a large part in the discussion following the death of Frodo's parents. Probably if he had not had the deciding vote, the lad would have gone to one of the Baggins families.

Setting aside the close blood-ties of Dudo and Drogo for a moment, for whatever reason--and it might be a formal one, in a society, as you mentioned, that had the formality of-seven-witnesses-in-red-ink--and regretfully setting aside the picture of an elderly unmarried aunt raising a young and rambunctious lad (Tom Sawyer, anyone...?)

If status goes hand-in-hand with responsibility, and Bilbo was considered by the dictates of society "unsuitable" because he was unmarried and older and might not "understand" the needs of a relatively young child, then Otho Sackville-Baggins would be the next logical choice. He is next to Bilbo in status in the Baggins clan (we don't know if Belba and Rudigar had any children, but certainly none appear on the family tree, so they are "out of the picture", so to speak), and he already has a son just a little older that Frodo. Sounds perfect, in theory, until you consider the realities of the situation (i.e. Lobelia...).

I can see Bilbo, as head of the family, arguing vehemently that Frodo should stay with his mother's family, no matter what the reputation of the Brandybucks might be, to prevent the lad from going to be raised by the likes of Lobelia.

As far as who had guardianship, I agree with you that the responsibility would go to the Master of the Hall, but I envisioned, rather than neglect, a sort of scenario where "too many cooks spoil the broth". Everyone is putting his or her oar in, and so the boat is not going anywhere. And of course, with so many "guardians" there is also the possibility that people were assuming that other people were watching the lad, and quite a good reason for Frodo to become one of the worst rascals in Buckland in rebellion against all the pressure of being pulled in different directions. (My mind is not quite so clear, yet, on the practicalities, but i have been trying to work out something that makes sense to me for my "bilbo adopts frodo" story.)

But I do see Saradoc and Esmeralda speaking for the lad, and having a soft spot for him, and having a fair amount of influence in his life. Perhaps they don't fuss over him, but just let him be himself. In any event, there must be some reason that he and Merry are so close, and so I've postulated that it comes of Merry having such loving and sensible parents, who had love to spare for Frodo.

As to young married couples without children--I was very close to a cousin and spent a fair amount of time with her and her husband when they were young marrieds. They had a great deal of influence over my life, and so I can see Frodo in a similar situation with Saradoc and Esmeralda.

Whew! Practically an essay here. Hope you don't mind.

Author Reply: What fun I'm having with the comments on this! This is so cool!

As far as who had guardianship, I agree with you that the responsibility would go to the Master of the Hall, but I envisioned, rather than neglect, a sort of scenario where "too many cooks spoil the broth". Everyone is putting his or her oar in, and so the boat is not going anywhere. And of course, with so many "guardians" there is also the possibility that people were assuming that other people were watching the lad, and quite a good reason for Frodo to become one of the worst rascals in Buckland in rebellion against all the pressure of being pulled in different directions

Again, something of my idea. As I said, *my* Drogo left a will. So of course his wishes held sway. But I do see the thing of young Saradoc and Esmeralda being swamped with conflicting advice for how to deal with this particularly difficult grieving child, and a good deal of possibly unwanted interference as well. And for my Frodo, there is also the fact that his foster parents are aware of his occasional suicidal tendencies when his depression is at its worst,so almost all the adults in Brandy Hall try to keep him under constant surveillance, which chafes him, as he doesn't realize they know of his darker thoughts. So he does everything he can think of to slip the leash.

By the way, I love the scenario you have constructed there: I'd love to read that in a fic as well--the efforts to keep poor little Frodo out of Lobelia's and Otho's clutches! That would be awesome!

And see what people can come up with when they play their own tune and *don't* always follow the memes?

LindeleaReviewed Chapter: 1 on 11/11/2005
Good stuff.

What do you think of the notion that Brandybucks in general and Merry in particular are seriously bothered by heights?

Author Reply: You mean, more than the average hobbit? LOL!

It's rather the flip side of Tooks liking to climb trees, I suppose, and has more canon evidence to back it in the general hobbit phobia about heights than the former notion.

It is fanon, of course, but grounded in canon. However, as you know it's a meme that I like and have made use of for my Merry. I think in stories it makes rather a balance: here is something he fears that Pippin does not. And of course, Brandybucks already have an advantage in not fearing the River or boats. It also gives a bit more depth to Merry as a character, and certainly makes a number of plot bunnies happy. *grin*

BodkinReviewed Chapter: 1 on 11/11/2005
Is there any evidence that Pippin was premature / very sickly and spent masses of his childhood being ill? Or is that fanon?

Author Reply: That question popped up on LJ as well. As far as I know, it is strictly fanon--the only canon thing at all is that Pippin was considered small. And as he was youngest, that's not entirely illogical anyway. It doesn't have to be caused by prematurity.

However, it's a very useful bit of fanon, and one I have incorporated myself.

It's so pervasive that I can't determine just who was first responsible for it.

AntaneReviewed Chapter: 1 on 11/11/2005
This is very good! The books and movies are marvelous but it's the fans that have really deepened my love for the hobbits and enriched my understanding of them esp. Frodo and how great their love for each other. That's there, of course, in the books and movies, esp. between Sam and Frodo, but expanded so much more in stories that the books don't touch on or not much - Frodo's childhood and his love for his cousins and their love for him and how much more comfortable they are sleeping together than apart and all that and how pure and innocent their love is. The books shows the purity just as well and the fans have additionally enriched the characters. This is not to say in any way anything against the professor, we are forever in his debt for discovering these marvelous people and it is a testament to him and them that we are so blessed to have so many other tales of them.

Namarie, God bless, Antane :)

Author Reply: Fanfiction is indeed a very enriching and exciting way to explore Middle-earth, and the movies, especially visually, have added a good deal of depth as well.

I like and have used many fanon notions. However, I like writers to be aware of the difference. If something is written in a fanfic, and then someone else writes a story in which they do *not* make use of a particular fanon convention, then it is not fair for readers to castigate them for it. Being well grounded in the books helps us to appreciate good fanfic even more.

FantasyFanReviewed Chapter: 1 on 11/11/2005
This issue of Frodo's guardianship is one I have also thought about, and my thoughts go somewhat against the fanon.

My guess as to who would have been Frodo’s guardians at the time of adoption would be Rorimac Brandybuck and Dudo Baggins.

First Rory: He was Primula’s oldest brother, and probably Master of Buckland when Primula and Drogo died, and head of the family where Frodo would live. (There is some controversy over the date of death of Rory’s father Gorbadoc: the family trees say 1363, well before the date Prim and Drogo died in 1380, but the story the Gaffer tells in the Ivy Bush in 1401 puts Gorbadoc still alive in 1380 at the age of 120; however, the Gaffer may have gotten it wrong, or Gorbadoc certainly might have died in the nine years since then, passing the guardianship on to his son Rorimac who was already 78 in 1380.) Despite being a Baggins in name, Frodo’s parents lived in Buckland, Frodo was identified as a Bucklander, and I feel that there would have been Brandybuck representation in Frodo’s guardianship. I think Rory and Menegilda as the leaders of the family are naturals for guardianship on the Brandybuck side of things. Rory is truly Frodo’s Uncle, unlike Bilbo whom he called Uncle.(Frodo was Bilbo’s second cousin once removed on the Baggins side, and first cousin once removed on the Took side.) Many people think Saradoc and Esmeralda (Merry’s parents, though he wasn’t born yet) took Frodo in, but at the time they were childless and only 40 and 36 years old. I can’t imagine Hobbit society giving them formal guardianship at that time - 40 and 36 are too young for that responsibility in a society that doesn't come of age until 33. The fact that they were childless I think counts against them - they are inexperienced youngsters.

However, I don’t think that the fact that Frodo is a Baggins would have been ignored, in a Shire that wants to do legal niceties in Red Ink with Seven Signatures. It also makes sense to me that they would want to hold some control over Frodo's upbringing, as one of the few male Bagginses of the generation. Dudo was Drogo’s only brother, and closest living male relative. Dudo’s wife is unrecorded, but he did have at least one child at that point, and Dudo was a respectable 69 when his brother died. There is an older sister, Dora, but she seems to have been a spinster, and I get the feeling that there would be some patriarchal notion of putting the guardianship in male hands. Dudo (or Dora, for that matter, if you think she’s a matriarch) would have been Bilbo’s second cousin and Frodo's true Uncle.

Author Reply: An excellent analysis, and I would love to see a story incorporating your notion.

I, too, feel there would have been some Baggins representation in Frodo's upbringing. While Dudo would have seemed the logical one, as Drogo's only brother.

In my version of the Shire, Drogo left a will, and in it he made Bilbo--to whom he was very close, Frodo's primary guardian, and Saradoc, to whom Primula was close (actually she was closer to Esmeralda), as the secondary guardian. My Dudo was in poor physical health, which was the reason for not making him a guardian. Frodo remained in Buckland until his tweens because Menegilda and Esmeralda convinced Bilbo that the child was too young for him to handle, and that he still needed a "mother" figure. I felt that this arrangement explained a number of things: why Frodo *did* remain in Brandy Hall in spite of being a Baggins, why Merry was so close to him, and why Bilbo did finally adopt him.

I agree with your feeling that Saradoc and Esmeralda would have been considered young parents by Shire standards. However, to me that seemed an advantage rather than a disadvantage. Older hobbits might have children of their own to occupy their energies. And living in Brandy Hall, Saradoc and Esmeralda would have the help and advice of all the older hobbits. Moreover Saradoc was Rory's heir. However your reasoning is very sound as well.

Have you written any stories using this scenario?

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